Family Betrayal: Indian-Origin Couple Convicted for Trafficking Own Cousin and Forcing into Labor

Written on 01/24/2024
Asia91 Team


In a striking case that highlights the dark underbelly of human trafficking and exploitation, an Indian-Origin couple in Virginia has been found guilty of forcing a family member into labor under harsh conditions. Harmanpreet Singh, 30, and Kulbir Kaur, 43, now face up to 20 years in prison for their crimes, which include forced labor and human trafficking charges.

 

 

Ashok (name withheld for privacy), a minor who arrived in the United States, was lured by his cousins with the false promise of enrolling in an American school. But his hope quickly turned into a harsh reality. Upon his arrival, Harmanpreet Singh seized his immigration documents and compelled him to work relentlessly.

 

 

Ashok's living conditions were dire. He was often left to sleep in the store's back office for days, with barely any food. Denied medical care and the education he was promised, his life became a cycle of endless work, watched constantly through surveillance in both the store and the home.

 

 

Ashok's bad situation got worse when he had to stay in the US longer than his visa allowed. Harmanpreet and Kulbir didn't listen to his requests to return to India. 

 

 

When Ashok requested his passport with visa papers or simply requested a break, his captors resorted to violence, subjecting him to beatings and kicks. The situation escalated to terrifying levels when Singh assaulted him and even threatened him with a gun, according to court documents. This harrowing tale highlights the dire circumstances individuals face who find themselves trapped and exploited by those they trust.

 

 

Key Details of the Conviction:

 

  • Who? Harmanpreet Singh and Kulbir Kaur, a Sikh couple, were convicted by a federal jury.
  • What? They forced their cousin, a minor at the time of arrival in the US, into labor at their gas station and convenience store in North Chesterfield, Virginia.
  • How? By enticing him with false promises of education in the US and then confiscating his immigration documents upon arrival.
  • When? The exploitation occurred from March 2018 to May 2021.

 

 

The Victim's Ordeal:

 

  • Labor Exploitation: Forced to work as a cashier, prepare food, clean, and manage store records for long hours with minimal pay.
  • Abuse and Threats: Subjected to physical abuse, threats, and degrading living conditions to compel him to work.
  • Deprivation: Denied proper food, medical care, and education. His movements were monitored, and attempts to leave were met with violence.

 

Authorities Respond:

 

  • Federal Prosecution: The case was vigorously prosecuted, emphasizing the US Justice Department's commitment to combating human trafficking.
  • FBI's Involvement: Highlighted the FBI's dedication to justice for victims of such crimes.
  • Scheduled Sentencing: Singh and Kaur's sentencing is set for May 8, with potential penalties including 20 years in prison and significant fines.

 

Community Impact:

 

The case serves as a reminder of the importance of reporting suspected human trafficking. Information can be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or online at www.humantraffickinghotline.org. Further details on the Justice Department's anti-human trafficking efforts are available at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.

 

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